One of the things I’ve said about the internet and our website in particular is that there is always a new reader out there somewhere. Even if there is an article I published years ago, it’s always brand new to a fresh pair of eyes. Such is the case with the series of articles I published on this site called The Capewell Glass Negative Collection.
The Capewell Glass Negative Collection is a series of about 200 5-inch by 7-inch glass negatives shot early in the 20th Century by John Batt Capewell (1878-1951) of Westville, New Jersey. John passed the negatives down to his son Henry who left them in his wife’s possession upon his passing. Henry’s widow didn’t know what to do with them and didn’t particularly want them so she offered them to my Dad who couldn’t turn down anything. Ultimately I wound up with them and thought I would one day have photographic prints struck from them. That didn’t happen, but I came up with the digital workaround of placing the negatives on a lightbox and rephotographing them with a digital camera. The “processing” was then done on a computer with image editing software. They came out better than I thought they would so I thought I would show them off to the world on this site. Many of these pictures have not been seen in a century, and I’m proud to be presenting them today.
This series turned out to be fairly popular as far as this site is concerned. At first I was just throwing images up on the site not knowing anything about the people involved save for the name Capewell and the location where most of the images were shot which was Westville, New Jersey. Sharp-eyed and generous readers provided bits and pieces of information identifying names and places.
I eventually exhausted the 200 negatives in my possession, and I thought I was done. I rescued these images from utter obscurity by presenting them to the public, and I would leave these posts up hoping they would find curious passersby or people who could provide more pieces to complete the puzzle. Such is the case of a Mr. John Capewell who is a descendant of these Capewells and recently reached out to the site:
I am a descendent of John Capewell who along with his brother James owned Excelsior Glass Works in Camden,NJ His brother had offices in Philadelphia. I remember seeing the ruins of the family home many years ago. Their father Joseph was in partnership with several others in Union Glassworks, the daughter of one of the partners, Sarah Austin married John Capewell and they are my great great grandparents. I’m named John Austin Capewell. My grandfather, Eugene Ralph and his father Edgar along with Eugene’s brother Perceval are in the 1906 book of the Capewell family. I just ran across this blog and I would love to see the glass photos plates. I’ve never met another Capewell except for one who’s door I knocked on many years ago in Fradeswell England but he had no interest in speaking to me.
Thanks for the information, Mr. Capewell. I invite you and your relatives to the site to take a look. A number of the images can also be found at my Flickr site. Feel free to reach out here. Thank you!